“Elite” Joe Flacco now has a win in the record books as a Browns quarterback. Cleveland snapped their two-game losing streak, defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars by a score of 31-27. It was a game full of touchdowns and turnovers — it felt like the Browns could have won by a lot more, but they still had control of it the entire way. Let’s get to the full game recap.
The Browns received the opening kickoff, allowing QB Joe Flacco to go to work for the second straight game. The offense began the drive well, quickly getting into Jacksonville territory with a couple completions to RB Jerome Ford and a quick slant to WR Cedric Tillman. Facing a 3rd-and-1 from the 34 yard line, RB Kareem Hunt came in. Flacco ran the playaction fake, and for the second week in a row, had an uncovered receiver (TE David Njoku) along the left side for a 34-yard touchdown pass! That put the Browns on top 7-0.
QB Trevor Lawrence came on for the Jaguars, less than a week after his high ankle sprain. The Jaguars went three-and-out, with Lawrence’s third-down scramble having come up short. After the punt, the Browns tried to bring out the trickery on second down, having QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson take a snap and hand it off. After that play, though, C Ethan Pocic was hurt and had to be replaced by OL Nick Harris. Flacco’s third down screen pass to Njoku was stopped for no gain, resulting in a punt
The Jaguars got going on their second drive, with Lawrence delivering a 16-yard strike to WR Calvin Ridley, and RB Travis Etienne taking a snap from Wildcat for 16 more yards, into Cleveland territory. Before they could get into field goal range, Lawrence threw a nice third down pass up the left sideline, but CB M.J. Emerson did an even nice job breaking it up for the incompletion.
Jacksonville punted, pinning the Browns back at the 10 yard line. The offense scuffled again, going three-and-out, but P Corey Bojorquez uncorked a 75-yard punt (net 72 yards) to flip the field position.
75 YARD BLAST FROM THE GOAL LINE— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 10, 2023
Bojo is a beast on the lake pic.twitter.com/CsMm6AxgRe
Cleveland’s defense was aggressive on all three of Lawrence’s pass attempts, forcing a three-and-out. The Browns just missed blocking the punt, and after the kick got off, Cleveland took over at the 28 yard line. Once again, though, it was a quick three-and-out for the offense, as they failed to find a rhythm for the third drive in a row. After Bojorquez’ next punt, they began their drive at the 22 yard line.
Browns CB Cameron Mitchell got away with a big pass interference or defensive holding move on the Jaguars’ drive, preventing what would’ve been a wide open touchdown catch. It led to the Jaguars having to punt again, with WR James Proche making the fair catch at the 28 yard line with five seconds left in the quarter. Those five seconds mattered, as Flacco hooked up with WR Amari Cooper along the right side for 17 yards to close out the quarter.
Flacco continued hot to start the second quarter, hitting WR Elijah Moore for 20 yards. Two plays later, he found Njoku again for a 30-yard touchdown pass to give the Browns a 14-0 lead.
On the first play of Jacksonville’s next drive, Lawrence tried to go deep but was intercepted by Emerson!
A 26-yard run by Ford up the right sideline got the Browns into Jacksonville territory. A few plays later, facing a 3rd-and-4, Flacco tried the quick slant for Tillman, but he bumped into a defender and another defender intercepted the pass, returning it to the 42 yard line.
The Jaguars had gotten onto the edge of field goal range, but then on 3rd-and-4 from the 32 yard line, the Browns brought the heat and S Grant Delpit sacked Lawrence for a 13-yard loss, taking them out of field goal range. Jacksonville had to punt, pinning the Browns back to the 5 yard line.
Flacco began the next drive with a quick slant to Cooper, who made a man miss. After gaining 19 yards, he tried shifting the ball to his other arm, and the defender from behind knocked the ball out. Jacksonville returned it to the 12 yard line.
Two plays later, Lawrence got the ball over the defense to TE Evan Engram for a 10-yard touchdown, cutting the Browns’ lead to 14-7.
On the Browns’ next drive, they had several penalties, including two that called back first down conversions, and eventually led to a punt. Despite another booming punt by Bojorquez, Jacksonville returned this one 26 yards to the 44 yard line. A few plays later, on 3rd-and-3 from midfield, Lawrence found his receiver along the edge for a first down.
Jacksonville faced a 2nd-and-8 at the 42 yard line heading into the two-minute warning. A false start made it 2nd-and-13, but that didn’t matter for Lawrence, who connected with Engram over Delpit for 23 yards up the left side. Lawrence tried firing to Ridley on a post on the next play, but he never saw it, and the ball went into the arms of Emerson for his second interception of the half! He returned it to the 19 yard line with 1:47 to go and all three timeouts.
After a 2-yard connection to Ford, Flacco avoided a sack and rolled to his right, finding Njoku on the right sideline for 15 yards. After that, an incomplete screen pass and a false start seemed to set the drive back a bit, setting up 3rd-and-11 with 1:28 to go. The Jaguars burned their third timeout after Cleveland couldn’t move the chains. After Bojorquez’ punt, they would begin at the 21 yard line. Their drive only lasted 13 seconds, though, as the Browns forced three incompletions and just missed a pick six on third down after DE Za’Darius Smith had tipped a ball on third down.
With 0:47 left and at the 25 yard line, now Cleveland could take another shot. After one incompletion, Njoku stiff-armed a defender for an 11-yard gain and got out of bounds. Cleveland faced a 3rd-and-1 from the 45 yard line, but Flacco skipped a pass in and with 0:12 left, they had to punt, basically ending the half.
The Jaguars got the ball to open the second half, and the defense swarmed Etienne on first down for a loss of 6 yards. That set the tone for the drive, as Lawrence was incomplete on second down and then a false start made it 3rd-and-21. On third down, Lawrence threw a quick 8-yard pass, but LB Anthony Walker raked at the ball for the strip and recovery at the 22 yard line!
AAAAAYYYYYYYEEE, WALK!!— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 10, 2023
this defense proving they belong at the top pic.twitter.com/X2GwMK9q5y
After Hunt was stopped for no gain on first down, Flacco found Tillman for a 9-yard crosser on second down to set up 3rd-and-1 at the 13 yard line. The give was to Hunt, and they marked him inches short, setting up 4th-and-inches. Cleveland decided to go for it. Flacco kept it for the quarterback sneak and moved the chains. A 3-yard pass to Hunt set up 2nd-and-7 from the 8 yard line. Hunt got the carry on second down, and used his strength to churn out 4 yards, making it 3rd-and-3 at the 4 yard line. Cleveland brought in their goal line personnel, and Hunt took the direct snap and powered it in again for a 4-yard touchdown! That put the Browns up 21-7.
The defense came out fired up, first hitting Etienne for a loss of 2 yards on a screen pass, and then DT Maurice Hurst sacking Lawrence for a loss of 8 yards. Jacksonville punted after their third down dumpoff, allowing Flacco and the offense to come right back on the field at the 33 yard line with 7:38 remaining in the third quarter. Unfortunately, two plays later, Flacco made a big blunder but not recognizing the free rusher coming off the edge. They hit Flacco as he was about to throw, causing a fumble and a recovery at the Browns’ 25 yard line.
The Browns’ defense had a crack at stopping the Jaguars on a 3rd-and-12 from the 17 yard line, but Cleveland brought pressure and Lawrence hit Ridley on the left side for 16 yards to the 1 yard line. Etienne took the direct snap two plays later and broke the plane for a touchdown, closing the gap to 21-14 with 4:59 remaining in the third quarter.
On 3rd-and-7 to start the Browns’ next drive, Flacco got a big 13-yard completion to Moore on the right side. That was followed by a 10-yard catch-and-run by Cooper to cross midfield. After having a 2nd-and-4 at the 43 yard line, though, Ford was stopped for a loss of 1 yard, and Cooper couldn’t secure the third down quick pass. Having the lead, the Browns opted to punt, with Jacksonville making the fair catch at the 6 yard line with 0:42 left in the quarter. Hurst nearly brought down Lawrence at the goal line, but he escaped and got back to the line of scrimmage to end the quarter,
Engram caught a 9-yard pass to start the fourth quarter to set up 3rd-and-1. Lawrence lined up five-wide and tried to go deep — but CB Greg Newsome ran the route better, intercepting the pass at the Jaguars’ 48 yard line!
Flacco began the next drive with an 9-yard slant to Cooper. On 2nd-and-short, Ford was stuffed again for a loss of 2 yards, setting up 3rd-and-3 like the situation the Browns were just facing. Flacco’s pass sailed up the seam for Cooper, setting up fourth down. The offense stayed out there, making it seem like they would try to get Jacksonville to jump offsides. Instead, Cleveland snapped the ball and Flacco threw a quick strike to WR David Bell. The defender slipped, and Bell walked in a 41-yard touchdown, putting the Browns up 28-14!
The Jaguars got a nice chunk of yards to start their next drive, thanks to CB Mike Ford being flagged for unnecessary roughness. A few plays later, Lawrence faced a 3rd-and-4 at midfield. He found Ridley over the middle to move the chains.
Lawrence zipped another pass to Ridley for 12 yards, getting to the 23 yard line with under ten minutes to play. Cleveland Delpit leave the field with an injury, meaning they were now operating with two backup safeties. On 3rd-and-6, WR Parker Washington caught the wheel over Ford for the touchdown, making it a 28-20 game with 8:52 to go. Jacksonville lined up to go for two, and they wasted time and had a delay of game. That brought the field goal unit back onto the field, kicking the longer extra point to make it a 28-21 game.
Flacco ran a playaction fake to start the next drive and tried to hit Moore over the middle. He had a shot at connecting with him for about 20 yards, but Moore couldn’t hang on. On second down, Hunt got the handoff, and Cleveland pushed the pile for a gain of about 9 yards, setting up 3rd-and-1. DTR came in and ran a quarterback sweep, picking up 5 yards for a first down.
Two short passes to Ford set up another 3rd-and-1. This time, the Browns brought in their heavy package again, along with Hunt. Flacco was going to sneak it and failed, but a false start was called on RT James Hudson again. Now with 3rd-and-6, Flacco was looking to pass. He couldn’t find his target, leading to the punt coming out. The Jaguars jumped, though, leading to a 5-yard penalty. Head coach Kevin Stefanski sent the offense back onto the field. The big package returned. This time, Flacco gave it to Hunt who jumped forward for the first down. With 4:31 to go, the drive stalled at the 42 yard line. The punt unit came out again, but Bojorquez booted the ball into the end zone for a touchback.
Lawrence started with an 11-yard completion to Engram. Several plays later, facing a 4th-and-3 at their own 38 yard line with 3:34 to go, head coach Doug Pederson decided to go for it, putting the game on the line. Lawrence tried to throw it over the middle to WR Zay Jones, but S Ronnie Hickman and CB Cameron Mitchell were all over it, knocking the ball away for a turnover on downs.
Cleveland took over with 3:30 to go. The Jaguars stopped Hunt for a loss of 1 yard on first down, and then burned their second timeout. On 2nd-and-11 at the Jaguars’ 39 yard line, Flacco pitched the ball to Ford. Ford made a man miss in the backfield, and then gained 2 yards to set up 3rd-and-9 from the 37 yard line. The Jaguars burned their last timeout with 3:19 to go. Flacco tried a quick hitter to Moore, but it would’ve been short of the sticks anyway — although it did stop the clock. K Dustin Hopkins came on for the critical 55-yard field goal, and he nailed it! That pretty much secured the game at 31-21 with 3:10 remaining.
The Browns went to a prevent defense after that, first allowing Lawrence to scramble for 5 yards (getting out of bounds), and then allowing an 18-yard dumpoff to Etienne. Etienne had catches of 12 and 9 yards then, setting up a 2nd-and-1 heading to the two-minute warning. A couple plays later, the officials threw a flag on LB Anthony Walker on a pass down the middle for pass interference, putting the ball at the 2 yard line with 1:44 to go. On 3rd-and-goal, Lawrence found Engram for the touchdown, making it a 31-27 game with 1:33 to go. Once again, Jacksonville lined up to go for two. DE Myles Garrett came up with the sack, keeping it a four-point game.
Now, Jacksonville would need both an onside kick and a touchdown (as opposed to a field goal). The Jaguars lined up for the onside kick, but Proche recovered easily, ending any further drama. Flacco came out to kneel it down and secure his first win, improving the Browns to 8-5.
Up next, the Browns stay at home to host the Chicago Bears.
- QB Joe Flacco: 26-of-45 for 311 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, 1 fumble.
- RB Jerome Ford: 12 carries, 51 yards (4.3 YPC). 5 catches, 31 yards.
- WR Amari Cooper: 7 catches, 77 yards.
- TE David Njoku: 6 catches, 91 yards, 2 TD.
- CB M.J. Emerson: 2 INT.